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Adding a Subwoofer to your Pinball Machine

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One of the shortcomings of most pinball machines is that they lack bass in the default speaker system.  Most of the time manufacturers install the cheapest possible speaker options in order to make more money instead of trying to produce a better sounding experience.  That’s opened up the market for a lot of different aftermarket solutions including replacing the cabinet subwoofer with a much better one and installing an external subwoofer which hooks into the game.  I’m going to detail this second option today but have used both options in the past.  Let’s dive into pinball machine subwoofers now.

Parts Needed

The first thing you need is to buy an external subwoofer.  The most popular one by far is this Polk one I’ve linked below through my Amazon affiliate.

Polk Subwoofer from Amazon

Typically it’s $99 but sometimes it’s on sale, that’s the best time to jump on the deal.  Once you’ve got a subwoofer, now it’s time to get the Pinnovators kit for your particular machine.  The game I installed it on was an NBA Fastbreak, so I bought this kit:

Williams DCS kit from Pinnovators

It comes with the adapter and wiring you need in order to make this work with the subwoofer above.

Once you’ve got the parts above, you’re ready to move to the installation portion.

Installation

Depending on your machine, installation will probably be slightly different than the NBA Fastbreak I installed mine on.  First thing to do is to remove the two existing speaker plugs and plug in the Pinnovators adapter.  I have a picture of what it will look like below after everything is assembled plus the mini-jack cord plugged in.

Pinnovators Williams DCS adapter
Pinnovators Williams DCS adapter

After that is done, it’s time to route the cord.  Initially I tried to route it between the head and the body but the latch in the back wouldn’t close unfortunately.  I came up with a secondary option in the back of the head, lowering the grate at the top.  With that lowered, I was able to easily route my wire through.  Reversible and easy to do.  Once the wire is routed, you can hook it up to the subwoofer via the red and white RCA plugs.  I have a picture and a video below of the process:

Routing the pinball subwoofer cable
Routing the pinball subwoofer cable

Trying it out

Once you’ve got it installed, it’s time to try it out.  I made a video below showing what it sounds like with and without it on, there’s a pretty big difference:

I’ve also used the cabinet subwoofers in the past on multiple games.  I’m sure you’re wondering “How does this compare?”.  Well, it doesn’t, the external subwoofer sound is way better when actually using it.  However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t drawbacks.  First, having the integrated sub makes it a more seamless process.  There’s also a little more shaking of the cabinet itself with the internal sub.  That’s about where the advantages stop though.  The external sub isn’t tied to any particular game and can be used for up to four games, which makes it a lot cheaper.  It can also be adjusted or turned off a lot easier if it’s late at night and you don’t want to wake anyone up.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to upgrade the bass in your pinball machine, there’s no better choice than adding an external subwoofer.  Hopefully you’re able to add your pinball machine subwoofer as easy as I was.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me or post a comment below.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Review

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Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

If you own a Switch, you’ve probably noticed that it’s great in handheld mode but not so great when using it in docked mode due to the controller.  The controller that comes with the Switch is great for certain games undocked (like ARMS) but not as good for games where you assemble them on the controller dock.  The controller dock is kind of awkward and isn’t the greatest compared to Xbox One or PS4 controllers.  Enter the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

Unlike the controller dock, the pro controller is the Nintendo equivalent to the Xbox One and PS4 controllers.  It feels a lot better in your hand than the dock solution.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Box
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Box

Setup

Setting it up is pretty easy.  You do it by hooking up your USB charging cable to the dock and your controller, and then powering on the console.  Doing this automatically binds the controller to the console.  I was surprised by how easy it was, most of the time you have to hold a button or something to bind the controller to the console.

Using In Games

To test it out, I first played Super Mario Odyssey.  I’ve been playing that game mostly in handheld mode so it was a good chance to see how it compared to that.  When I first used it, it felt a little weird due to having used the joycon controller for the past 9 months.  My hands usually were much farther apart and typically were also holding up the screen.


Super Mario Odyssey on projector
Super Mario Odyssey on projector

The second game I tried was NBA Playgrounds.  I’m sure some of you are like what?  Despite its weird name, it’s actually a pretty decent game, one my favorites on the switch.  I wanted to see how well the controller worked with something like Tetris that requires pretty good precision to play.  It worked really well, I did better than I normally do on the game.

After a while of playing, I really liked it.  It’s much better than the joycons though I still think the Xbox One controller is my overall favorite out of the modern consoles.  It definitely makes playing games on the TV a lot easier.

Nintendo Pro Controller next to Xbox One X controller
Nintendo Pro Controller next to Xbox One X controller

Charging and Battery Life

The pro controller is charged via a USB C cord.  This means it won’t be compatible with most of your cords around the house.  It does come with the cord you need though so that helps quite a bit.  Nintendo has switched to this standard for the Switch, which is nice because it charges faster but annoying because nothing else has really moved to that standard yet.  The battery life is supposed to be 40 hours.  I haven’t even ran out of charge yet so I can’t speak to that unfortunately.  It is nice it is rechargable, my Xbox One controllers are constantly running through batteries so that reduces that cost.  It did come uncharged out of the box, so if you’re planning on playing with it immediately take that into account.  40 hours is a long time, much longer than any other controller I can remember.

Cost

The controller costs $69, which is $10 more than the controllers from Xbox or PS4.  I kind of think it’s $10 too high, there’s not really any reason it should be any more expensive than their controllers.  It feels like a really nice controller but not any more than the competitors.

Your other option is getting the dual joycons for a second controller.  If you’re playing 64 player games, that’s probably the better way to go at least to start as buying those costs $79 and allows 2 more players while this is $69 and only adds one player.

Conclusion

If you’re playing a lot of single player games in the dock, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is an essential purchase.  You’ll be using it for years and it’s vastly superior to the joycon dock solution.  The biggest drawback is the cost, at $69 it’s 1/4 the cost of the switch.  However, if you get years of use out of it, it will be well worth it.  Plus, you can avoid using the joycons, which are my least favorite controller of the current generation of consoles.  They’re good for handheld mode and certain motion games, but not good for your normal single player games.

Vintage American Shuffleboard Company Table

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American Shuffleboard Company table logo
American Shuffleboard Company table logo

It’s not everyday you run across a vintage American Shuffleboard Company table, especially one this long.  This one has been in this basement for over 50 years, it was in the basement when they built the rest of the house over it (it was too big to fit down the stairs, so they built the house around it).  It’s quite possible the carpet is original too, lol, along with the wood paneling.  🙂

Full Size American Shuffleboard Company Table
Full Size American Shuffleboard Company Table

The owners didn’t buy it new, it was originally on location before they got it.  It originally had a scoring unit and some lights I believe, but those are no longer with the table.  I asked the owner about them and they didn’t remember them being on there when they bought it 50+ years ago (but that they may have been there originally and they’ve forgotten in the past 50 years).  I looked under the table and there was a plugin where I think the lights and scoreboard plugged into but unfortunately no other signs of the missing pieces.  Here’s a picture:

american shuffleboard company electrical
american shuffleboard company electrical

Table Condition

Even being over 50 years ago, the table plays great.  Being so long, it’s very difficult to get pucks to stop at the end of the table.  You could probably practice on it for years without becoming a master.  The pucks appear to be the original pucks for the most part, although a couple of them appear to be replacements (probably from when it was on location).  The pucks were a dark blue and a bright red, if anyone is curious about that.

The table itself is in fantastic condition for as old as it is, it’s hard to imagine one being in better shape than this one.  Most of the wear on the table is around the bottom of the leg area, where people were probably rubbing against it all these years.  There’s also wear on the ends of the table obviously where people have been playing.

american shuffleboard company ribbon
american shuffleboard company ribbon

The one question is, does anyone know what the original scoreboard and lights looked like on this table?  And are originals anywhere?  I think the owners would like to purchase them if they knew what to look for.  It’s a little hard to figure out exactly what they need to buy, the information on this table is pretty lacking on the web currently unfortunately.  American Shuffleboard Company table parts appear to be hard to find.  Most of the pictures I was able to find were of the digital version and not of the Electro-Mechanical version (which were the versions before the late 70’s).

 

Intellivision Slam Dunk: Super Pro Basketball

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I’m sure all of you have a special video game or two that you played growing up that you have especially fond memories of.  I have a bunch, but one of the ones I remember the most was Slam Dunk: Super Pro Basketball on my friend’s Intellivision.  I actually didn’t even own an Intellivision, in fact I didn’t even play one until the game was out about 6 years.

The game is a 3 on 3 basketball game where you draft players based upon a budget.  No real players are in the game, but players like Dr. J are Professor Q in this game, and Magic Johnson is Houdini Watts.  There were a lot of games like this in the 80’s where made up names were common since all the licensing stuff was a lot more difficult.

Playing the game

The starting budget is anywhere from 1 million to 5 million.  The good players are around 2 million, and the bad players are as low as 200,000.  You have that budget to draft 5 players, however if you don’t have enough money then free agent players will be assigned to you.  Sometimes these free agent players are pretty good, so your team doesn’t turn out too awful.

My friend and I used to play games where I’d get 5 million and he’d get 1 million, since it was his game and he was way better than me.  I’d usually get a couple good players and get close but could never beat him unfortunately.  Rebounding is where I would always get beat, there was certain place you could stand to get the rebound almost every time.  I’d get down to the end and then some miracle would happen where he’d pull it out at the end.

Luckily I was able to get my revenge playing him in NBA Live 95 on the pc where I could dominate him all the time.  That’s another one of my old favorites but I’ll save that for another time.

Video

I made a video of it on my Epson 5040ub projector.  I did the draft and then played most of the first quarter, unfortunately the computer took advantage of my lack of passing (passing on Intellivision controllers is just impossible for me).

Pool Table Sizes

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Brunswick Pool Table
Brunswick Pool Table

There are four main pool table sizes, 7 foot, 8 foot, 8.5 foot, and 9 foot.  The size people are most familiar with is the standard 7 foot coin operated table you see at bars and other public places.  I’m sure most of us as kids remember rolling that cue ball around the table trying to hit the pockets while our parents talked during supper, that was my first exposure to pool.  They’re not as prominent today as they once were in bars due to technology like Golden Tee, Trivia, and other new technologies.  The 7 foot table is 3.5 feet wide.  The best reviewed 7 foot table at Amazon is affiliate linked below:

Havril Beachcomer Pool Table 84 inches

The next most common size is 8 foot.  You’ll see this size in a lot of homes that have extra room.  Obviously being a little bit bigger it also plays a little bit harder.  When choosing this and other sizes, remember that every foot you add to your table is another foot of room you’re going to need lengthwise and half a foot in width.  The 8 foot table is 4 feet wide as a result, maintaining the same 2 to 1 ratio.  Eight foot tables are also common on Amazon, my affiliate link for the best reviewed 8 foot one is below first, the second link is to an outstanding outdoor pool table that had great reviews:

Brunswick Danbury Pool Table 8 foot

Playcraft Extera Outdoor Billiard Table

The next size is 8.5 feet long by 4.25 feet wide.  When you get to this size, the table starts getting a lot harder due to the increased distance between pockets.  The angle that allowed you to make that shot on a 7 foot table might cause you to miss with that extra 18 inches on this table.  Amazon doesn’t even carry 8.5 foot or 9 foot tables, which kind of speaks to how popular they are (of course, it’s also not easy to sell something like that over the web either).

The last size is 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide.  This is the largest and most difficult standard pool table size.  You have to be pretty good player to use this size.  🙂

The other size you’ll see occasionally in homes is 6 foot.  I wouldn’t recommend buying this size as it kind of appears to be a kids toy, it just looks too small.  A lot of time these smaller pool tables are left in homes when they move due to the low value of these pool tables.

Snooker table sizes

Snooker tables take challenge to the next level.  My grandmother in law has a snooker table in her basement, that thing is TOUGH.  Not only is it bigger than normal, the pockets are angled so it’s harder to hit the shots too.  Standard snooker tables are 12 x 6 or 10 x 5, same ratio as pool tables.  However, as you can see, their much larger than pool tables.  I personally don’t enjoy playing on snooker tables too much, my skill level just isn’t high enough to play on them.

Space needed for various pool table sizes

After deciding on what size of table you want, the next question you’re probably wondering is how much space around it you’re going to need in order to play.  If you’re using 58 inch cues, then I’d recommend you have 58 inches around the table.  Using the standard table sizes above, that means:

7 feet x 12 inches = 84 inches + 58 inches + 58 inches = 16 feet, 8 inches

3.5 feet x 12 inches = 42 inches + 58 inches + 58 inches = 12 feet, 2 inches

So you need a room, 16 feet, 8 inches x 12 feet, 2 inches for a 7 foot table.

Doing the rest of the math, you need:

17 feet, 8 inches x 12 feet, 8 inches for 8 foot

18 feet, 2 inches x 12 feet, 11 inches for 8.5 foot

18 feet, 8 inches x 13 feet, 2 inches for 9 foot

Cues

There are also shorter cues you can use (as short as 48″) that will cut close to a foot off around the distance on all sides.  In a pinch you can also assume that the few inches for the rails around the game can be subtracted but that will also lead to a lot of dinged up walls.  I’m sure most of you have seen a pool table in a space that was way too small, the walls are usually way beat up, and when you’re playing you have to raise the cues into high weird angles in order to make some shots, not the most fun.  Make sure you take that into consideration when trying to figure out the size you want, a smaller table that doesn’t hit walls is going to be better than a bigger one where you can’t aim shots properly in my opinion.

Besides just length and width, there’s also another factor to consider, weight.  There are basically two kinds of pool tables people are selling currently, ones that have a slate top under the felt and ones that have mdf or other material underneath the felt.  The slate top plays the best, no question.  However, with slate top, the pool table is basically impossible to move without a large group of people.  With an alternative top, a 7 foot table can get down a more manageable 200 to 250 pounds, where a couple people could move it if needed.

Hopefully this article has address all your questions about pool tables sizes.  Whatever you pick, I hope you enjoy it.